Cave Story (DSiWare) Review

Now you can run Hell while on the go.

By Matthew Tidman. Posted 12/10/2010 15:00 7 Comments     ShareThis
The Final Grade
Editor's Choice
grade/score info
1-Up Mushroom for...
Everything you love about Cave Story now in portable form, Jukebox lets you listen to favorite songs any time
Poison Mushroom for...
Lacks some features of its big brother on WiiWare, it's the same game that can already be had on WiiWare and PC

While portable Cave Story is not a new idea (the game has been ported by fans to both PSP and DS in the past through homebrew efforts), a portable version of Cave Story has never been realized, unless you chose to play the game on a laptop. It’s really a shame because having played Cave Story the game really fits the portable well. However, the good news is that for the paltry sum of $10 an official version of the game is now available for DSiWare, and it’s fantastic.

Nicalis, the developer behind the WiiWare port has put the same loving care into the DSiWare version of the game. Once again players will be thrown into the action as an amnesiac robot who single-handedly has to save the world from utter destruction at the hands of a megalomaniacal scientist bent on turning peaceful, rabbit-like Mamiga into weapons of mass destruction. This is the same game that players have access to on WiiWare and PC. It is still a masterpiece of game design featuring some of the best controls and story of any MetroidVania title. There are no new twists or turns, which purists will enjoy, but it also makes it slightly more difficult to justify picking up again.

In fact some of the enhancements from the WiiWare release have, for better or worse, been forgotten in this iteration. In particular, players wishing to play the Curly Story mode of the game are out of luck as the spunky android is once again relegated to the role of supporting character. Slightly more saddening is the fact that the Boss Rush mode was completely axed for the DSiWare version. While this may have been a concession due to the lack of storage space for DSiWare, it is sad nonetheless, as the Boss Rush was definitely one of the better ways to expand the game’s longevity. Thankfully, after beating the true ending of the game, the Sanctuary Attack mode is playable, letting gamers play through “Hell” as many times as they like, completely customizing their weapons each time. In fact, the DSiWare version actually trumps the WiiWare version as players have access to any of the weapons and items instead of just a few of them.

Yet another omission in the DSiWare version are the upgraded graphics and soundtrack. Both are identical to the PC version of the game, though some of the character artwork may have been spruced up a bit to more closely match that of the WiiWare version. While purists will probably enjoy this return to the original graphics and music, it’s a shame that the new graphics could not be utilized in the DSiWare version. One change that is entirely expected that will probably annoy purists is the fact that the translation remains the same as the updated WiiWare version. While this is closer in detail to Daisuke “Pixel” Amaya’s original Japanese script, it also means that Balrog won’t be yelling “Huzzah!” at any point in the game.

There are a couple of things that the game adds to the experience that haven’t been had before. Menus and dialogue have been moved to the bottom screen while all the action is displayed on the top screen. Unfortunately there is no option for touch-screen menu interaction, but it does a nice job of de-cluttering the top screen, which would otherwise suffer due to its reduced size compared to a TV or computer monitor. The game also includes a Jukebox menu that lets you listen to any song that has already been played once in the game. It’s great to be able to access these songs and really appreciated for anyone who has ever wanted to listen to the OST but doesn’t want to hunt down a particular song on YouTube. Sadly, the jukebox has a visual menu that does not list songs by name, meaning there may be some hunting to find the exact song you want to listen to. All of the images used in the jukebox interface, however, are taken for the game’s sprites and it’s really a minor gripe to be had with what is a long-overdue addition to the game.

So yes, Cave Story for DSiWare is nothing amazingly new. If you’ve already owned the game on WiiWare or even gotten the free version for PC, you’ll probably want to skip the game as the only really major thing it has going for it is the fact that it is the most portable version of the game available. But if you’ve never given it a try and prefer your games in portable form, or if you’re just a die-hard Cave Story fan, then $10 ($2 less than the WiiWare version) is definitely a great price for this indie classic.

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